Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Finishing.

On Monday, I sent my latest manuscript to my agent.

Afterward, I was chatting with a dear friend of mine, Brigid Kemmerer, who had also just sent a newly finished manuscript off into the ether (and by "into the ether", I mean: to her editor). She mentioned feeling rather bereft, like she was letting go of her main character (who, I will tell you right now, is awesome)(and by "awesome", I mean: HOT). She said it felt like he was headed off to college or something. Growing up.

I was also feeling this sense of loss; the euphoric frenzy of creation had come to an end for the time being. The story was told. I always thought finishing a manuscript would come with an emormous sense of accomplishment, and it did, but the primary feeling right now is ... sadness? Loss? Some sort of crash? I'm not sure.

So ... you tell me. How do you feel when you finish a writing project, however big or small? Ambivalent? Ecstatic? Emptied out? If you've finished more than one project, have you felt differently each time? Is it related to the content of the work, the emotional significance of it, the kind of writing? Help me understand this feeling--or introduce me to a new way of thinking about it. Or maybe ... just distract me so I don't pine for this story I've just finished telling.

21 comments:

  1. Sarah, I always pine for the story and the characters after I've completed it and sent it off. As much as I compared the beginning of a new project to a road trip, trapped in a car with a bunch of crazy, unpredictable strangers ... the end is highly emotional. I'm hugging them and crying and I don't want to say good-bye.

    So, I can definitely relate to your loss right now. Congratulations on finishing the manuscript and sending it off to your agent. And condolences.

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  2. Congrats on sending your manuscript. A great accomplishment. Me? I always feel ecstatic when I complete a project...but the "uh oh, now what?" feeling takes over and I have to push my mind back to the positive.

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  3. I'm still sad! Three days later! I was just re-reading the ending, and I'M STILL SAD. *sniff* Gabriel. You done growed up.

    At least I can visit him in the third book. As my buddy Bobbie said, "He'll be home to do his laundry." :-D

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  4. I have a friend who writes short stories and novellas. They're quick to do, so she enjoys writing them. I'm the opposite. I don't want quick. I love falling in love with my characters and staying with them for a while. Yep, I'll never been one of the 'prolific 3 books a year' writers.

    Congrats on finishing your latest project (for now). :D

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  5. awwww! sweetie!
    i've never really actually finished anything... so i don't have an answer.
    i do have this for you though- if you truly feel finished, this may cure that right out of you:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LsZDunGF0s&feature=g-all

    have a lovely week, chickadee!

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  6. First I jump for jor for actually finishing. Then I crash when I realize I have to send it to my CP ... knowing all the hard work that will come after that.

    Congrats on finishing another book, Superwoman. It's time to take over the world.

    ~JD

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  7. I certainly understand that sense of loss that comes when something comes to an end, but I don't usually feel this when I give something to my agent or during the back and forth with an editor. Because I know I'll see it again. Once a book goes to print, though, I feel that sense of the final goodbye along with sheer panic. : )

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  8. First and foremost, what you're feeling is normal. We writers experience a mixture of emotions when we finish. It's a time to rejoice, to contemplate, to give thanks, and to rest. We can also feel sadness upon finishing. What this tells me is that you enjoyed writing your book, which means you'll write another. Have fun dreaming up a new project!

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  9. I always feel a bit relieved whenever I finish a project, even if there's still revisions ahead. It's like, there, you've done the hard part (not that revisions aren't hard, too!), you finished and made everything come together in the end.

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  10. I don't know. I've never truly finished one yet, but I'm pretty sure it will be like post partum depression, if I'm allowed to make that metaphor, as a dude.

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  11. I can imagine it would feel a bit like having an empty nest. Maybe that's why so many authors release novellas after the fact?

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  12. I think the emotions are always mixed. But right now, finishing this new ms will just be thrilling. So ready to hand this off. Talk to me again when it's done, though. I'll probably bawl for two days as I wait to hear back from my agent.

    Congrats on the finish though! That's awesome.

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  13. when I finished the first draft of my very first novel, I felt pretty triumphant--it was my first time ever finishing a story. on the other hand, I knew the world was far from over, so I wasn't celebrating yet or anything. hopefully I'll feel that overwhelming "at last, I'm done" when I've finished several drafts and rounds of editing and there's nothing left I can see to fix.

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  14. I immediately feel a sense of loneliness, like my characters don't want to hang out with me anymore. :(

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  15. LOL! oh, us writers. We are crazy. But wait! YOU'RE not crazy... :D Personally, I always feel like this: "omg! That is the most AWESOME THING EVER!!! I love this story, and I can't wait for everyone to read it!"

    Then I hit "send," about 2.5 seconds go by, and I dive under the desk to chew my nails while I'm convinced that was the worst thing ever and No One will Ever like it. What was wrong with me? Etc.

    yep. Completely nuts. :D

    GOOD LUCK to you on the new book! And super-congrats! I bet it's awesome and everyone will love it! <3

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  16. It IS kind of like launching a child into the world. It's like you've done your job, it's a bittersweet feeling that it's over, you get to turn to something fresh and new. Now it must make its own way, but you'll be credited/blamed for how it turns out. :D

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  17. I've only ever finished first drafts. All my novels will be living in my basement and drinking all my milk forever :-)

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  18. Thankful that it's all out of my head and into readable words. My major problem? I over-edit, so I never feel completely "done."

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  19. Congratulations, Sarah. You are my creative hero.

    My first novel, I had a sweet sense of accomplishment. For my second, it will be of relief.

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  20. I just sent in my revisions to my agent this week, so I know exactly where you're coming from! (Must be a big week. Is everyone trying to get their books off their desks before the holidays set in?) At any rate, I don't know if I'll have more revisions or not, so I decided I'd take this time to just refill the well and critique for my two CPs. As soon as I decided that, I started getting itchy to start working on a book - ANY book. I'm not going to do it (yet) but I feel a bit lost without my writing. As for letting go of my characters, I haven't yet. I keep telling myself I'll probably have more revisions from my agent, and then, when/if this book sells, from my editor. So it's not truly over yet.

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  21. When I've finished one of my superlong sagas, I need some time to unwind and come down from that intense writing experience of going on that long, long, long journey with these characters. It's the same way I've felt when I've finished an intense superlong book or when I've seen one of the seminal silent films. You just need some time to come down off of this huge high and process everything you've just seen, read, or written.

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